Lockdown Roadmap: How Covid Rules Will Be Lifted In 2021

Here's the timeline for Boris Johnson's plan to lift lockdown in England.

Boris Johnson has unveiled how England will emerge from lockdown as part of a four-step plan by the government.

The prime minister is targeting June 21 as the date when all social distancing will end, although spiking cases of the Indian variant have raised questions over whether the final lifting will go ahead.

Stages will be set apart by five-week reviews and the government has set out target dates for when each restriction could be lifted. Here is what people can expect in the months ahead.

Stage 1

March 8

All schools and colleges will return, though face coverings will be mandatory in secondary schools. After-school sports and activities can restart.

University education will continue to be delivered online, however.

Two people can meet for a coffee or picnic as it will be allowed to meet one other from another household outdoors again.

Care home visits indoors will resume, with residents allowed one regular named visitor.

The government’s ‘stay at home’ order will remain in place.

March 29

The rule of six on social gathering will return. It will allow six people from up to two households to meet outside or in private gardens.

The ‘stay at home’ advice will be replaced by new guidance to ‘stay local’ where possible. People will still be asked to work at home wherever possible, however, and overseas travel ban in place.

People will be allowed to travel to meet someone but not stay overnight.

Outdoor facilities such as tennis courts, golf courses and basketball courts will reopen.

Stage 2

From April 12

Non-essential retail and personal care businesses, such as hairdressers and nail salons, are expected to reopen.

Pubs and restaurants could reopen but only for outdoor hospitality. There will be no curfew but table service will be compulsory. The rule of having a substantial meal will not return.

Public buildings, including libraries, are expected to reopen from this date.

People can also begin to exercise indoors with the reopening of gyms and swimming pools. Members of the public can only use facilities alone or with people from their household, however.

Driving lessons can resume. Weddings and funerals can resume with guests of up to 30 and wakes can include 15 people.

People can stay in self-contained holiday lets or camp sites where facilities are not shared, but only with members of your own household.

Stage 3

From May 17

Pubs and restaurants can begin hosting people indoors.

Gatherings outdoors will be allowed for up to 30 people.

The rule of six/group comprised of two households will also be extended to include indoor settings.

Overnight stays will be permitted. Hotels and museums can reopen.

There will also be new rules on entertainment venues, such as cinemas and theatre, and indoor sports venues.

Indoors venues can host 1,000 people or be half full, whichever number is lower. Outdoors, there will be a maximum capacity of 4,000, or half full whichever is lower.

For larger football stadiums, such as Wembley, the crowd can be as large as 10,000 or the venue be a quarter full.

Exercising indoors in larger groups will be allowed, so, for example, exercise classes can resume.

Restrictions on international travel will also be reviewed, raising hopes that foreign holidays will be possible from May 17.

Stage 4

The government is aiming to remove legal limits on social contact, including all limits on weddings and life events.

Unlike last summer, nightclubs will be expected to reopen.

A review examining social distancing requirements – including hugs with friends and relatives – the use of face masks and requirements to work from home, will also be published by June 21.

Johnson has also announced a review into whether people should be able to show if they have had a Covid-19 vaccine or a negative test.

Ministers will also consider whether a domestic ‘vaccine passport’ or ‘Covid status certification’ could help reopen the economy sooner.

What are the four tests for lifting lockdown?

Ministers will review the data over the course of four weeks and use four tests to decide if lifting restrictions is safe. The tests are:

  1. that the vaccine programme “continues successfully”

  2. that there is evidence jabs are “sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths”

  3. that infection rates “do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS”

  4. that the government has no fears over no variants.

Editor’s note: This article originally said museums will reopen in stage two from April 12. It has now been corrected to make clear museums will not reopen until stage three on May 17 at the earliest, after the government provided updated information.


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